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The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals | [Michael Pollan]

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.
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Publisher's Summary

The best-selling author of The Botany of Desire explores the ecology of eating to unveil why we consume what we consume in the 21st century.

"What should we have for dinner?" To one degree or another, this simple question assails any creature faced with a wide choice of things to eat. Anthropologists call it the omnivore's dilemma. Choosing from among the countless potential foods nature offers, humans have had to learn what is safe, and what isn't, which mushrooms should be avoided, for example, and which berries we can enjoy. Today, as America confronts what can only be described as a national eating disorder, the omnivore's dilemma has returned with an atavistic vengeance.

The cornucopia of the modern American supermarket and fast-food outlet has thrown us back on a bewildering landscape where we once again have to worry about which of those tasty-looking morsels might kill us. At the same time we're realizing that our food choices also have profound implications for the health of our environment. The Omnivore's Dilemma is best-selling author Michael Pollan's brilliant and eye-opening exploration of these little-known but vitally important dimensions of eating in America.

We are indeed what we eat, and what we eat remakes the world. A society of voracious and increasingly confused omnivores, we are just beginning to recognize the profound consequences of the simplest everyday food choices, both for ourselves and for the natural world. The Omnivore's Dilemma is a long-overdue book and one that will become known for bringing a completely fresh perspective to a question as ordinary and yet momentous as "What shall we have for dinner?"

©2006 Michael Pollan; (P)2006 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

  • National Book Critics Circle 2006 Award Finalist, Nonfiction

"Remarkably clearheaded book....A fascinating journey up and down the food chain." (Publishers Weekly)
"His supermeticulous reporting is the book's strength - you're not likely to get a better explanation of where your food comes from....In an uncommonly good year for American food writing, this is a book that stands out." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Completely charming." (Nora Ephron)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Stephen Kent, WA, USA 03-03-08
    Stephen Kent, WA, USA 03-03-08
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "My best listen yet"

    I learned things about what we eat that I'm not so sure I wanted to know. It makes me consider becoming a vegitarian. But the way the information is presented is masterful. But not only was the information very interesting, the way it was read was really top notch. This is my favorite audio book so far.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D portland, OR, USA 02-15-08
    D portland, OR, USA 02-15-08
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    1
    Overall
    "Eye opening"

    This is a detailed, informative and very disturbing look at the industrial food system we live within. It makes me want to run away from anything with corn in it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stevan Austin, TX, USA 01-17-08
    Stevan Austin, TX, USA 01-17-08
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "Phenomenal"

    The one word title describes this book. After listening to it, I have altered my choices of food for political, moral, and health reasons.

    Listen to it and learn where your food comes from.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Salt Lake City, UT, USA 10-07-07
    Ryan Salt Lake City, UT, USA 10-07-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "As if the decision wasn't hard enough!"

    I have to admit that our "dilemma" has been made that much more difficult with this newest Michael Pollan masterpiece! It is helplessly cliche yet true that igorance is bliss. I have three small children and can't help but be concerned about what is being put into their bodies. We have always been health concious yet after reading this book I feel that our efforts have been pathetically feeble. Yet I feel a new understanding and appreciation for those farmers who don't buy into the industrial complex just to make a buck (and what a few "bucks" you will make if you did). I had an economics professor tell us once that the largest welfare recipients in this country are farmers. Pollan just helps confirm and expound as to why! An ancient philosopher once said that "Knowledge is power as long as we act on it." This book, along with "fastfood nation" and the film "supersize me", is a major kick in the pants to act.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Evan gunnison, CO, USA 09-22-07
    Evan gunnison, CO, USA 09-22-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    Overall
    "we should think about our food more"

    Pollan does an excellent job of investigating the current state of our food system. The historical and scientific background information is especially valuable. I found the book easy to listen to and fascinating.

    My only minor quibble is with how much of a fan Pollan clearly is of his new friends, the sustainable farmers and foragers. He loses a small amount of credibility by becoming so personally involved. Some of this personal involvement adds pleasant levity to the title, as well, so it's not a major problem.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    PLR San Rafael, CA 08-23-07
    PLR San Rafael, CA 08-23-07 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    5
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "Excellent"

    I have talked about this book to numerous friend's and have really been moved by what it said. This is not just a book, but a piece of our culture. I think it should be required reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Liz Forestville, CA, USA 08-15-07
    Liz Forestville, CA, USA 08-15-07 Member Since 2012
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    8
    1
    Overall
    "vital and scholarly"

    If you made it to this the 42nd review, I would like to share a quick testamony. How we handle the land that feeds us is not a small matter. This book is a tome, a large and deeply researched piece, not to be confused with entertainment. After working in the health food industry and watching, first hand, much of what this book has to tell, I cannot put words on how grateful I am this information has been gathered and presented.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Moorpark, CA, USA 07-28-07
    David Moorpark, CA, USA 07-28-07 Member Since 2007
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    1
    Overall
    "Thought provoking"

    Informative on many levels... thought provoking...
    and buying local is now emphasized in my purchasing decisions...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Lafayette, LA, USA 07-22-07
    Jason Lafayette, LA, USA 07-22-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
    Overall
    "Food will never look the same again"

    This book changed the way I view food. I promise you'll never look at a supermarket, a farmed field or a plate of food the same way again. It offers a holistic view of everything from our industrial mono-culture society to the undercurrent of change running beneath it. This book is amazing.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vince Sebastopol, CA, USA 07-10-07
    Vince Sebastopol, CA, USA 07-10-07
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    "very informative"

    This makes you think twice about what you put in your mouth. Very detailed and expansive look at where our food comes from.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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